Joan of Arc, 1915

Anna Vaughn Hyatt Huntington

On Joan of Arc Island, at Riverside Drive and 93rd Street.

Joan of Arc stands high on a hill overlooking Riverside Drive, Riverside Park, and the West Side Highway. The sculpture represents Joan of Arc on horseback, ready for battle. She is fully clad in armor, and standing tall in the stirrups. With one hand she holds the reins of the horse, while with the other she raises a sword high in the air. Her calm, unwavering eyes are fixed on the sword. The sculpture has an eager movement, with Joan of Arc leaning forward towards her sword, and the horse lifting its front leg high, ready to break into a run.

The pedestal for the sculpture, designed by architect John Van Pelt, places the horse and rider high above eye level. The pedestal is ornamented with columned arches cut into the stone.

Anna Hyatt Huntington studied and worked in the United States before moving to Paris, a common practice among American artists, in 1906. There she became interested in the story of Joan of Arc, and decided to create a sculpture dedicated to the saint [1]. In preparation for her work, Huntington studied the legend [2], and visited sites in France associated with Joan of Arc's life [3]. In her sculpture, Huntington chose to portray the moments before Joan of Arc's first battle [4].

In 1910, Huntington submitted her life-sized, plaster statue of Joan of Arc to the Paris Salon where it won an honorable mention, despite an atmosphere of disbelief at a woman's ability to produce such a piece [5]. Joan of Arc was the first figurative piece that Huntington had ever exhibited, her previous work being primarily of animal themes [6].

While Huntington was in France, Joan-of-Arc admirers in New York formed a committee to raise funds to erect a statue in Riverside Park commemorating the 500th anniversary of the birth of Joan of Arc. In search of a sculptor, the committee held a competition, and Huntington's design was chosen. Huntington then commenced further research on her subject, looking for acurate examples of period armor and battle equipment [7]. She made adjustments to her design, and arrived at her final piece in 1915.

Joan of Arc was received in New York with wide praise [8]. It was the first equestrian statue made by a woman to be placed in New York [9], as well as the first New York public sculpture memorializing a woman. There are four copies of the statue in other parts of the world [10].

Possible discussion themes
How are women represented in the public art in New York?
Joan of Arc is one of a select few sculptures memorializing women in New York. While there are plenty of female figures to be found in public sculpture in the city, most of those images are allegorical or general, rather than representative of specific people.

What ideas or feelings are expressed when the artist uses the format of an equestrian statue?
Equestrian statues date back to Roman times, when they were erected by leaders to represent political power and authority [11]. How did patrons and sculptors in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries use figures on horseback? How do we look at equestrian statues today?

What does the commissioning of a statue of Joan of Arc say about the relationship between the United States and France?
During World War I, people looked to Joan of Arc as an symbol of the strong political relationship between France and the United States, and the commonalties in the countries' values as represented in the story of Joan of Arc [12].

Related art works
Eleanor Roosevelt.
Eleanor Roosevelt is another of the few public sculptures in New York built to honor a woman.

General William Tecumseh Sherman.
Made just a few years before Joan of Arc, this sculpture is another example of the tradition of representing strength and leadership in equestrian statues. The choice of subject, however, is quite different. Whereas Joan of Arc's story was 500 years old at the time that the statue was erected, General Sherman had fought in a war that touched the lives of the people who viewed the sculpture.

Statue of Liberty.
The Statue of Liberty, like Joan of Arc, has been looked to as a representation of the political ties between the United States and France. Given to the United States by the French in 1884, the statue was originally meant to be completed in time for the 100th anniversary of the independence of the United States. Among those who conceived of the gift, the statue may have been designed as a reminder to the French of the values espoused in the fight for liberty and democracy.


  1. Gayle, M. and Cohen, M. (1988). The Art Commission and The Municipal Art Society guide to Manhattan's outdoor sculpture. New York: Prentice Hall Press. p. 283.
  2. Cook, D. E. (1976). Woman Sculptor: Anna Hyatt Huntington (1876-1973). Hartford, CT. p. 3.
  3. Cook, p. 3; Evans, C. W. (1965). Anna Hyatt Huntington. Newport News, VA: The Mariners Museum. p. 16.
  4. Cook, p. 4; Evans, p. 16.
  5. Cook, p. 4; Gayle & Cohen, p. 284.
  6. Cook, p. 3.
  7. Cook, p. 4; Gayle & Cohen, p. 284.
  8. Gayle & Cohen, p. 284.
  9. Cook, p. 5.
  10. Cook, p. 27.
  11. Reynolds, D. M. (1988). Monuments and masterpieces: Histories and views of public sculptures in New York City. New York: Macmillan Publishing Company. p. 113.
  12. Reynolds, p. 119.

Note: When Huntington made Joan of Arc, she was not yet married, and her name was Anna Vaughn Hyatt. In library catalogues and databases, however, she is usually listed as Anna Hyatt Huntington.


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